Harmless error

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Harmless error is an error committed during a trial in court which was corrected or was not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and therefore was not sufficiently harmful (prejudicial) to be reversed on appeal.

In a criminal case, harmless error is defined as:

The test for harmless error is whether, in the mind of the average juror, the prosecution's case would have been 'significantly less persuasive' had the improper evidence been excluded.

United States v. Emerson, 501 F.3d 804, 813 (7th Cir. 2007). If the issue is appealed, then the government bears the burden to prove that a reasonable jury still would have reached the same verdict in the absence of the error (i.e., in the absence of the evidence improperly admitted). United States v. Williams, 493 F.3d 763, 766 (7th Cir. 2007).

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